UK director-producer Alexander Joyce has threatened to get a court injunction stopping the January 27 world premiere Zentropa’s latest feature, Norwegian director Peter Næss’ Into the White.
”No comments, except the man is trying to squeeze money out of me, which – biologically – any film producer is against,” said Danish producer and head of Zentropa Entertainments, Peter Aalbæk Jensen.
”Zentropa’s conduct has been dishonest, impudent, totally unacceptable, and a crystal-clear breach of the copyright legislation,” Joyce told Norwegian daily, Dagbladet, adding that bringing the screening to a halt solves no problem – he would rather strike a deal with the producer.
Into the White (formerly Comrade) is based on a true event during World War II: on April 27, 1940 German Luftwaffe pilot Horst Schopis’ bomber was shot down over Grotli by an RAF fighter, which subsequently had to crashland in the fjells.
Three German and two English crew members found shelter from the strong Norwegian winter in the same isolated cottage. The international cast includes Florian Lukas, David Kross Rupert Grint, Lachlan Nieboer and Stig Henrik Hoff.
According to Joyce, he and his production company, Roundhouse, approached Zentropa Norway in 2009 with his idea of making a documentary of the event, working title Comrade. Joyce had been working on it for five years, also interviewing Schopi in Germany.
Joyce claims that Zentropa originally proposed to back the documentary, while it would itself use the story for a fictional feature. Instead Zentropa took over the project, without making any financial arrangement except paying $3,750 travel costs and finder’s fee.
As stated by Joyce, Zentropa did not change its first title of the film, Comrade, until he said he would go to court, since he had registered it as a trademark. To his knowledge, the film still contains clips from his interview with Schopi, who died last year.